Lia Perkins, Katherine (Haimingyue) Xu, Shreyaa Sundararaghavan and Owen Marsden-Readford
Week 3, Semester 2, 2021
Lia: Hello, over the last few months the welfare action group has been very busy. At the start of the lockdown the government’s economic support did not cover students on youth allowance, as well as neglecting many other students.
We ran a photo campaign for “$750 for everyone” and an open letter with over 100 signatories, including many organisations. The focus of the demands extended included increased economic support, raising Jobseeker to at least $80 a day and free early childhood for all. It’s important that the expansion of welfare support during the lockdown is extended to all in need, and continues after the immediate crisis.
Three members of the group wrote a statement of demands about the need for more safe and affordable housing. These demands are: 1) an increase to the University’s general bursary for struggling students, 2) a rent reduction for students living in University accommodation, 3) the advertisement of the moratorium on evictions for University accommodation, 4) the University must offer crisis accommodation for those in need.
The Welfare Action Group is hosting a discussion with Living Incomes for Everyone (LIFE) on 7 September. This will be an opportunity for students to understand the impact of insecure livelihoods on students and how we can collectivise and fight back for a better social security system. Follow the page and join our group to get involved. We have meetings fortnightly on Wednesday at 3pm (USyd Welfare Action Group on Facebook).
I have also been involved in organising events for Radical Education Week – particularly the discussions and panels on the IPCC report, unionism and strikes and the political economy department. Check out the page @radedweek on Facebook.
Owen: I have been involved in organising the Lockdown to Zero, Health Before Profits campaign which is demanding there be a hard lockdown, with all non-essential businesses shut and a massive expansion of welfare so workers can stay home. We need to fight against the Berejiklian government’s plan to open up despite the cost to the health and lives of ordinary people.
I also helped to organise the Community Action for Rainbow Rights zoom rally against the bigoted ‘Religious Freedom Bills’. We had over 150 people join us from around the country to hear from a wonderful line up of speakers and continue to organise against the Right even if we can’t hit the streets at the moment.
Week 9, Semester 1, 2021
Hello everybody! This is our last report for 3.5 months :(( so make sure you’ve liked the ‘USyd Welfare Action Group’ Facebook page to hear about what’s happening!
On May Day we supported the CFMEU’s green ban on the development of Willow Grove Parramatta. The student contingent brought the demands of Green Jobs, Climate Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty.
On 12 May we will bring a student contingent to the ‘Defend Public Housing’ rally at Martin Place. Our demands are: don’t sell off any public housing in NSW, return JobSeeker and other welfare payments to the original rate, and affordable housing for all students. Join our working bee on 5 May. We have formulated a list of demands for our student housing campaign and are in the process of contacting other groups who may want to be part of it or contribute demands.
About 10 members of the Welfare Action Group attended and cooked for the CUDL street kitchen on April 25 and it was a success.
Welfare officers attended the NO TO 12 WEEK SEMESTERS forum and rally. It’s important for students to understand that the 12 week semester proposal is a symptom of the corporatisation of the university, stretching us for profit and cutting staff pay. For these reasons we strongly oppose the proposal.
We attended both CARR’s and QUAC’s protest and speakout against transphobic bills in state and federal parliament. These bills are political attacks from the right, attempting to devastate young people’s ability to speak about and develop their identity, with harmful consequences. We attended the Enviro collective’s Student General Meeting (SGM) to build to the May 21 climate strike. Look out for GMAR and WoCo’s ‘Sorry Day’ rally on May 26 – stolen generations continue despite the hollow gestures of the Labor party. I helped to organise the Students for Palestine forum on the Nakba and Palestinian resistence to occupation. The forum is building for the Palestine Action Group Nakba Day rally on May 15th. Another important upcoming rally is the Tamil Genocide Day rally on May 16th which I have been helping to build on campus. It is the first time this protest is happening in Sydney so I encourage everyone to attend.
Week 7, Semester 1, 2021
The Welfare Action Group, along with student activists from USyd, UNSW and UTS will be bringing a large student contingent to the May Day action to Defend the Willow Grove Green Ban. This is an important action because of the industrial importance of Green Bans and the support from the local community against the Berejiklian Government. We hope to see more similar actions, especially relating to the appalling Gas Led Recovery by the Morrison Government. We encourage everyone to join our contingent!
At our last Welfare Action Group meeting we resolved that we would focus on student housing in the upcoming semester. We are appalled by recent reports about overcrowding and hot bedding in student accommodation. Our group is looking to put together a report and hold a speak-out about the affordability, inaccessibility and conditions of student housing for domestic and international students. Come along to Welfare meetings to be part of it.
I (Lia) have been organising with the Sydney branch of the Australian Unemployed Workers Unions (AUWU) on anti-poverty campaigns and around women’s economic justice.
We will attend the street kitchen at Martin Place again on 25 April. Please join the Facebook group for more details, anyone is welcome to assist!
We attended the Black Lives Matter 30 years since the Royal Commission into deaths in custody protest on April 10. There continues to be no justice for Aboriginal people dying in custody as new government reports are constantly rolled out. A speak out was also held on the exact anniversary of the report where grassroots Indigenous activists from FISTT and Gamilaraay Next Generation spoke about the urgent need for people to listen and change to happen.
I have also been involved in an Education Action Group working group making a zine about striking and the ways forward in the current campaign, organising building events and promoting the “STAFF AND STUDENT FORUM: NO TO 12-WEEK SEMESTERS” next week.
I (Owen) have also helped to build for and attend the Black Lives Matter, Stop deaths in custody rally on April 10th. Sydney was one of the biggest demonstrations for the national day of action and a testament to the organisers. I have also been involved in helped to build for the Community Actions for Rainbow Rights rally on April 17th. Mark Latham’s anti trans ‘parental freedoms bill’ has been gaining steam in the Liberal party so it is important to demonstrate and build opposition to his reactionary attacks on trans youth. I am also a part of organising a Students for Palestine (SFP) meeting on Thursday April 22nd to help build for the Palestine Action Group Nakba Day rally coming up on May 15th. If you’re a supporter of Palestine make sure to come along to both the SFP meeting and the rally on the 15th.
Week 5, Semester 1, 2021
The Welfare Action Group has been continuing to hold meetings and actions. We had our speakout in week 2 which went very well, a huge thanks to all of the other office bearers and students who spoke about a range of issues, some being: #80aday, education cuts, sexual harassment and disability justice. If any students would like to join the group and attend meetings email or message us!
Public housing forum and campaign
On Wednesday 17 March we held a forum about public housing and student housing in NSW. We had a speaker from Hands off Glebe, Friends of Erskineville, Shelter NSW and a USyd international student. The audience and myself came away with a strengthened understanding of the campaign, and lots of important things to do to mobilise with residents and unions.
We are helping out with the Community Defence League (CUDL) street kitchen at Martin Place on Sunday 28 March. We will be cooking a huge meal and bringing a load of volunteers to assist where we can. If you’ve missed out and would like to come next time join the Welfare Action Group Facebook page.
Cross-collective events and April 10 BLM rally
Along with many of the other collectives we are organising educational events to build for the April 10 Stop Black Deaths In Custody rally (at Town Hall). These include a reading group, forum and film screening. It’s been over 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and nothing has changed.
I (Lia) will continue to attend rallys organised by the women’s collective about ending sexual violence at school, in parliament and everywhere in society, demanding justice for survivors. leafleted, postered for, and spoke at the Education Action Group rally on 24 March demanding NO CUTS, NO FEES. Owen was involved in the organisation of the Students for Palestine – Palestinian Lives Matter Rally. I (Owen) am also beginning to build for the Community Action for Rainbow Rights protest against Mark Latham anti-trans ‘Parental Freedoms’ Bill. This appalling attack has now gained support from Liberal MP’s so it’s even more important to come protest on April 17 against Mark Latham and anti-trans bigotry.
Another focus for this year is student housing. Students should have access to safe, subsidised and affordable student housing. We are going to organise a contingent to the public housing rally on May 12 among other actions!
Week 2, Semester 1, 2021
Hello! Welcome week is over and I have much to tell you about! This year we have revived the Welfare Action Group, an old collective of the SRC, to organise around the appalling state of welfare and housing for young people. If you want to get involved look up the Facebook group!
On Wednesday 10 March we will be holding a speak-out outside Fisher. The focus is on recent appalling changes that return JobSeeker to an unlivable rate and student and public housing. It’s an open mic so feel free to speak about any welfare related issue, or just listen to others. When workers and unemployed people are under attack, so are students.
Support residents of public housing
I’ve been in contact with community organisers who are trying to protect public housing in Glebe and South Everleigh that the NSW Government
is going to scrap. The Welfare Action
Group has organised a forum on
Wednesday 17 March at the Flodge
with some great speakers to discuss the relationship between changes to public housing
and student housing happening around the university. We stand in solidarity
with the residents and believe that
nobody should be evicted from their homes and that new developments
should be built to house everybody on
the waiting list.
Mutual aid/street kitchens
Later in March we are going to assist street kitchens and mutual aid projects throughout Sydney that are easing the burden of the reduced welfare rate.
Over the upcoming weeks we will seek to hold more learning and educational events such as reading groups or film screenings, in collaboration with other collectives. We are closely following and discussing new student housing developments and the consequences of the end of the eviction moratorium.